Coach Bobby Bowden wasn’t pleased with the way Florida State handled Memphis State on Saturday. But he was pleased with the result as the No. 6-ranked Seminoles overcame a 10-point deficit to win, 19-10.
“I guess winning is the bottom line,” Bowden said after Kirk Coker came off the bench to throw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Darrin Holloman and Derek Schmidt kicked four field goals to spark the team’s third straight victory.
“I’ve played a lot of great games and lost,” Bowden added. “But when you have a game like this, both teams going at it fair and square, it’s just great to win.”
Offense normally carries the Seminoles but, on Saturday, it was the defense and special teams that provided the winning edge.
“It was bad enough to get us beat if the defense and kicking game hadn’t held us up,” Bowden said of his offense.
Coker replaced injured Seminole starting quarterback Danny McManus, who suffered a concussion late in the first half. His touchdown pass to Holloman gave Florida State a 13-10 lead with 3:05 left in the third quarter.
The final outcome was not assured, however, until Schmidt drilled his fourth field goal--a 24-yarder with 50 seconds left in the game.
Memphis State started the day ranked No. 7 in the nation in total defense, and Coach Rey Dempsey thought the Tigers’ chances were good.
“Defensively, we did not think that they could score a touchdown except on perhaps a missed assignment,” said Dempsey, whose 1-1-2 team had settled for ties against Mississippi and Murray State the last two weeks.
“Some people didn’t give us a chance in this game after our performance against Murray State. But it went the way I thought it would. I thought if we could stay close, we could eke it out.”
Schmidt, whose field goal on the final play of the game enabled Florida State to tie Memphis State a year ago, also kicked field goals of 51, 51 and 46 yards Saturday. He missed a 47-yard attempt.
McManus was ineffective in the first half, completing 5 of 15 passes for 68 yards.
Mistakes also cost Florida State in the opening half. Sammie Smith lost a fumble to stop a drive at the Memphis State 26, and an offensive pass interference penalty against Holloman cost the Seminoles field position before Schmidt’s first 51-yard field goal.
Coker completed 7 of 8 passes for 54 yards in the second half. Tailback Tony Smith, meanwhile, paced a rushing attack that produced 94 yards in each half.
Smith finished with 96 yards in 18 carries.